Prepare yourself: this will be a black sheep review. This just did not work for me. From the moment this story started, I knew it would not be one I would enjoy. I didn’t DNF but I struggled and rolled my eyes a lot.
Short recap: Molly is a seventeen year old girl that has had 26 crushes but never been kissed by a boy. She is afraid of rejection so she chooses to crush on a boy from afar. Things change when she starts a job and meets a boy.
I enjoyed Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda so I expected more of the same great writing with Albertalli’s new book. I don’t feel any of these characters possessed the same charm or charisma as the characters from Simon & Co. The characters’ lack of development was only half of the problem. The other half was the actual plot. I’ll get to that in a moment. I felt nothing for any character in this story. Not a thing. They felt super shallow, self centered, and void of personality. I did not like the protagonist, Molly, at all. I never believed her plight. Actually, here is a list of items that bothered me the most about her:
- She acted like a very emotionally stunted 17 year old. She came across as an 11 year old girl discovering boys for the first time.
- She is obsessed with finding a boy. AND she is obsessed with losing her V-Card to a boy. SLOW YOUR ROLL, SISTER. You shouldn’t give that away to just anyone simply because everyone, including your twin, is having sex. (The first boy she kisses she immediately takes to her bed and acts like she wants to do the deed. Whoa.)
- She is also a voyeur that creepily watches her twin making out with other girls. Um… what?
- She constantly, and I do mean constantly, refers to her physical size in the most negative way possible but then chooses to do nothing about it. (Ignore for a moment that the author never described what Molly looks like. If she did I missed it. All I know about Molly’s is that she’s a bigger sized girl.) She does defend herself when a jerk makes a weird comment, but is always worried a boy will not like her because of her size. I get that, but I just don’t feel that topic was written properly in this story.
- She also reminds everyone that she is on Zoloft but it is never explained why. Does it matter? Not that I could tell. It felt like it didn’t have an impact on the overall story but it was constantly talked about.
- She was wishy-washy with her feelings throughout the entire book.
I felt Molly was the most developed character in this book but I still knew nothing of who she was. I knew she was crafty and liked Pintrest. What about her likes and dislikes? What was she truly passionate about? I could not tell you that because all I knew was that she was obsessed with her crushes and she had never been kissed.
The supporting characters were not done well either. Every girl in this story was seventeen or eighteen and sleeping around. They were constantly bragging to the other girls about it. I get that teens are having sex and it is going to happen but I don’t feel it was delivered well in this story. I wanted to like the moms in this story but I felt they were trying too hard to be the “hip and cool” moms.
The plot itself did not speak to me. I read this story as an insecure virgin that longed to be kissed. Molly always talked about everyone’s physical appearance. She always referred to them as “cute” or “hot”and then she would compare herself to them. That is not healthy. Nor is it healthy that she didn’t feel she was good enough for anyone until she found a boy that liked her. I’m a strong enough female to know that I don’t need anyone to validate me and I wish that would have been more of the topic, but it wasn’t. Instead, we are given teenager Molly, with her lack of self worth, not feeling like she is good enough until a boy likes her.
I was hoping for so much more with this story. I wanted this to be a different kind of story. I always try to figure out how the title of a book gets worked into the overall story and I still don’t see it with this one. I did not feel any unrequited love in this story because Molly never told any of her crushes how she felt. So how can it be unrequited then? Molly never put herself out there to be rejected so the title felt misleading. Yes, Albertalli focused on Molly’s coping techniques for her insecurities, but that didn’t circle back to the title in any way. I did like the diversity within the story. There were topics of race, religion, gender identity, body size, and some mental health but it just was not enough to save this story.
I’m not sorry I read this as I liked the author’s first book, but I just did not jive with the overall story. I’m okay being the black sheep as I not every book is going to hit a homerun with every reader.